NEW YORK — Paul Malignaggi, Andre Berto, and Sechew Powell emerged victorious during a rare tripleheader fight telecast on HBO’s Boxing After Dark last Saturday at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City.
Malignaggi, a fast-punching and slick moving 26-year-old from Brooklyn, fought for the first time since losing to undefeated two division world champion Miguel Cotto in June of 2006.
Malignaggi (22-1, 5 KOs) performed a boxing clinic to earn a 10-round unanimous decision victory against Edner Cherry (21-5-2, 10 KOs) in a 140-pound fight.
Malignaggi’s performance was perhaps the very best of his career thus far. Malignaggi, fighting under the tutelage of former junior welterweight and welterweight champion James “Buddy” McGirt, Sr., was virtually unbeatable.
“This is the first time I’ve seen him fight,” McGirt told BASN. “I’ve never seen him fight on tape or nothing. I heard a lot about him and asked him to come down to Florida for a week to see if there was any chemistry.”
“The chemistry was there. This cat has a lot of potential and get so much better. One thing he has to worry about is his infighting. Once he gets that and his hand speed, he’s going to be trouble. I was happy with his performance tonight.”
Malignaggi fought as if he had something to prove. He wanted to show that he still had a lot of fight left after the one-sided beating he absorbed when he met Cotto at 140 pounds.
Malignaggi was accurate with his punches, catching Cherry with left jabs and straight-right combinations. His speed was too much, as he proved to be too fast for Cherry, a very young, strong, and durable 140-pound fighter.
Cherry did have moments in the first and fourth rounds when he caught Malignaggi with several good shots. But Malignaggi counterpunched immediately using his quick reflexes and flashy style.
All three judges at ringside scored the bout 100-90, 98-92 (twice). BASN scored the bout 98-92 for Malignaggi.
“Pauile’s fight was boxing clinic,” said Lou DiBella, a former Senior Vice President of HBO Sports who promotes Malignaggi, Powell, and Berto as CEO of DiBella Entertainment.
“Speed kills and his speed is remarkable. Coming off his fight with Cotto, a lot of young kids have a brutal fight and they’re never the same fighter. This kid came in here and made a statement. He dominated Edner Cherry, a good fighter a classy solid fight and got dominated. I had it a shutout.”
DiBella was so impressed with Malignaggi. performance (perhaps a career best), DiBella believes that he can beat many of the top junior welterweight fighters including undefeated 140/147-pounder Ricky Hatton.
“With a couple of fights more, I don’t know how Ricky Hatton can beat Paulie. I don’t think he can. I don’t think Lovemore N’dou can. I don’t think Junior Witter can. With Cotto out of the 140-pound division, Malignaggi’s got more talent than anybody.”
In addition to Malignaggi, Berto proved that he is a future welterweight prospect with more than potential. Berto (17-0, 15 KOs) scored three knockdowns en route to an impressive first-round TKO of Noberto Bravo (23-13-3, 12 KOs). The bout was stopped at 2:29.
“I threw the jab to give a new look, but then I started throwing bombs,” Berto said afterwards. “I felt strong and tough tonight. I knew it was going to be over shortly after the second knockdown.”
DiBella compared Berto, 23, Miami, FL, to Sugar Shane Mosley and Marco Antonio Barrera because of his hand speed and power. DiBella is, however, cautious about pushing Berto too hard and too fast without building his experience.
“Sugar Shane Mosley when he was young,” DiBella said. “Marco Antonio Barrera when he was young. The kid just turned 23. you don’t want to push him too hard when he’s got a whole career ahead of him.”
“Berto’s hand speed is so quick for a power-puncher,” DiBella added. “Berto is a beast. I’m blown away. His punching power and hand speed is remarkable for a youngster. He’s remarkable.”
“I don’t know what to do with him next time. I’ll have to think about it. This kid is a combination of punching power, speed, and boxing ability. He’s the best prospect at this stage of his career.
Powell (21-1, 12 KOs), in his first fight since losing a lopsided 10-round decision to former junior middleweight champion Kassim Ouma last year, barely surpassed the challenge of a game Ishe Smith (18-2, 8 KOs) in an evenly-matched 154-pound bout that lacked explosiveness.
“Sechew, I think out-boxed the guy clearly, but he’s got to show more fire in the future,” DiBella said. “He’s one of the best 154-pounders in the business, but this is the entertainment business.”
“He knows walking away from the fight he did what he had to do to win. But now he has to do what he needs to do to become a TV star.”
Powell, 27, appeared to initiate much of the action early in the fight. Smith was cautious of getting hit by anything Powell threw. Smith had a confusing style. Smith kept his right close to his face. His left arm would be placed below his chin across his stomach, while turning away from Powell’s punches.
It appeared to have worked because, Powell missed fired frequently and consistently.
“The guy was awkward,” Powell admitted to Blackathlete.com. “I was never able to figure him out all night long, even in the last round.”
Smith was not aggressive until the fourth round when he dropped Powell with a right hand to his head. Smith dominated the second half of the fight by pressing Powell against the ropes where he was at his best.
Smith did catch Powell with a number of looping body shots. Smith did a wonderful job of making Powell miss frequently.
All three judges at ringside scored the bout 97-92 for Powell. BASN scored the bout 95-94 for Smith.